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At the SCO meeting, India refuses to back China’s BRI project

India refused to sign the paragraph supporting the Belt and Roads Initiative (BRI), in the New Delhi declaration issued at the end of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Leaders’ Summit, which is China’s President Xi Jinping’s pet project.

A similar formulation was used in the Samarkand declaration in 2022 when India refused to sign off on the paragraph.

The BRI paragraph in the New Delhi declaration of 2023 reads, “Reaffirming their support for China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) initiative, the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Russian Federation, Republic of Tajikistan and Republic of Uzbekistan note the ongoing work to jointly implement this project, including efforts to link the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union and BRI.”

India has always opposed the BRI, as it says the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor violates India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Samarkand Declaration of 2022 at SCO

This is similar to the Samarkand Declaration of 2022, which also said that Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, “reaffirming their support for China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI), note the ongoing work to jointly implement this project, including efforts to align the progress of the Eurasian Economic Union and BRI.”

On the issue of terrorism, the Delhi declaration uses similar language, except changing a word from the Samarkand declaration: instead of “ultranationalism”, it uses “chauvinism” this time.

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“The member states consider it important to build up joint coordinated efforts by the international community to counter the activities of terrorist, separatist and extremist groups, paying special attention to preventing the spread of religious intolerance, aggressive nationalism, ethnic and racial discrimination, xenophobia, ideas of fascism and chauvinism,” the New Delhi declaration stated.

The Samarkand declaration stated, “The member states deem it important to boost the international community’s joint efforts in countering attempts to involve young people in the activities of terrorist, separatist and extremist groups, and to pay particular attention to preventing the spread of religious intolerance, aggressive nationalism, ethnic and racial discrimination, xenophobia, and ideas of fascism and ultranationalism.”

In another change, the New Delhi declaration uses the word “mercenary goals” instead of the “deceptive purposes” used in 2022.

“The member states note the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of states under the pretext of countering terrorism and extremism, as well as unacceptability of using terrorist, extremist, and radical groups for mercenary goals,” Tuesday’s declaration stated. 

The Samarkand declaration at SCO stated, “The member states believe it is unacceptable to interfere in countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of combating terrorism and extremism, as well as the unacceptability of using terrorist, extremist and radical groups for deceptive purposes.”

“Reaffirming their strong commitment to fighting terrorism, separatism, and extremism, the Member States are determined to continue taking active measures to eliminate the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, to disrupt the terror financing channels, to suppress recruitment activities and cross-border movement of terrorists, to counter extremism and radicalization of youth, the dissemination of terrorist ideology, as well as to eliminate “sleeper cells” and places used as terrorist safe havens,” the Delhi declaration is a near repeat, as the Samarkand declaration had noted.

It also said that “subject to their national laws and based on consensus”, the members will seek to develop “common principles and approaches to form a unified list of terrorist, separatist and extremist organizations whose activities are prohibited on the territories of the SCO Member States.”

While there was no mention of the Ukraine conflict — like last time in Samarkand, it stated that member-states “advocate respect for the right of people to an independent and democratic choice of the paths of their political and socio-economic development, emphasize that the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity of states, equality, mutual benefit, non-interference in internal affairs and non-use of force or threats to use force, are the basis of sustainable development of international relations. They reaffirm their commitment to peaceful settlement of disagreements and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultations.”

In the Delhi declaration, they used the word “disagreements”, instead of “conflicts” used last time.

In 2022, the Samarkand declaration said, “The member states stand for respecting the right of nations to an independent and democratic choice of their political, social and economic development path, underscoring that the principles of mutual respect of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity of states, equality, mutual benefit, non-interference in internal affairs, and non-use of force or threat of force serve as the foundation for the sustainable development of international relations. They reaffirm their commitment to the peaceful settlement of conflicts and disputes among states based on dialogue and consultations.

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